Google Clearing up the Port Ellen compartment

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

January 12, 2016


Clearing up the Port Ellen compartment

Another totally useless session, since none of these are readily available anymore. But remember Whiskyfun’s no buying guide, it’s just a personal tasting diary. So, just for the records, a few middle-aged Port Ellens…

Port Ellen 17 yo (59.5%, Douglas Murdoch, +/-2000?)

Port Ellen 17 yo (59.5%, Douglas Murdoch, +/-2000?) Five stars Not much information about this one. Another Douglas Murdoch, a 1979/+/-1992, had been rather superb (WF 91). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a clean Port Ellen, without tons of tar, rather on seawater and apple juice, but the very high strength may have locked it in some ways. So, with water: damp clay, rocks, limestone, plastic, wet dogs (we’re sorry, dogs), raw wool, mud, porridge… Mouth (neat): absolutely superb! Sharp and pungent, with this bit of sweetness that keeps it sexy (candy sugar), and then an avalanche of smoked herbs and grasses, the whole being enjoyably acrid. Lime everywhere. With water: it’s not a peat bomb at all, and it even becomes kind of gentle, with drops of limoncello, lemon drops, all that. I find it perfect. Finish: very long briny, smokier this time, ashy, kippery… Just not tarry. Comments: a Port Ellen without any tar, but other than that, it’s fantastically precise, well-defined, angular, sharp… And very peaty! Reminds me of the first Rare Malt 20yo, just without the tarry side. The age is perfect. SGP:458 - 92 points.

Port Ellen 22 yo 1976/1999 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4795, 282 bottles)

Port Ellen 22 yo 1976/1999 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4795, 282 bottles) Five stars £59.99 a bottle, I remember well. Very expensive, I had thought. Colour: gold. Nose: phoo, there’s this very unusual combination of Demerara sugar with smoked and burnt herbs, plus porridge, soot, new bicycle inner tube, and tarmac. Epitomically Port Ellen this time, with this ‘chemical’ side that’s so unique. With water: fab. Leatherette and supermarket plastic bags, more tyres, more smoky porridge, more pitch and tar. ‘Nosing a brand new Porsche’ (a Ford would do, S.!) Mouth (neat): so unique indeed! Rubber bands marinated in lemonade? Or would that rather be Corsican citron liqueur blended with gorilka vodka? Licking the streets after the Monaco Grand Prix? With water: extremely ‘plasticky’. Plastic pouches, lemon, ginger tonic… Finish: long, curiously cleaner and more kippery. Big fat oysters with lemon and muscadet. Comments: 1976’s not a common vintage. This one was full of flaws, lovely flaws, desirable flaws. SGP:368 - 90 points.

Since they’re rare, why not have another 1976?

Port Ellen 21 yo 1976/1998 (57.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #4750, 234 bottles)

Port Ellen 21 yo 1976/1998 (57.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #4750, 234 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: minimal, almost Japanese in that sense. Bauhaus-whisky! No, this is early 1900s constructivist whisky. Malevich’s favourite. White on white. I cannot even find any aromas, and yet there’s this feeling of well-being, pretty hard to describe. Say oyster water and ‘new car’? (which would involve a lot of plastic, obviously). With water: fresh oil paint, wet wool, almond oil. And fern, perhaps, pine needles… Mouth (neat): zen whisky. Lemon juice, brine, and putty. That’s all, but everything’s just perfect. With water: green olives, bitter almonds, chewing your pencil, salt. Finish: long, sharp, salty, wonderful. Comments: totally anti-commercial whisky, I’m extremely fond of this philosophical style. Some totally non-whorish malt, I’d say, which is probably pretty stupid, but since I do not care, well… SGP:357 - 93 points.

Port Ellen 26 yo 1982/2005 (55.7%, Old Bothwell, cask #2473)

Port Ellen 26 yo 1982/2005 (55.7%, Old Bothwell, cask #2473) Five stars They had many great – and cheap – late-period Port Ellens at Old Bothwell’s! Colour: gold. Nose: the opposite. Milk chocolate, Werther’s Originals, fudge, custard tart, apple pie. I find no Port Ellen in there, but maybe is it me? So, with water: a tad vinegary and lemony, which is extremely… contrasting? Seawater, whelks, kelp, oysters… We’re clearly on the coastline. This baby just loves water, it seems. Mouth (neat): the sweetest, the easiest, the smoothest Port Ellen ever… Before it takes off. Because as it takes off, it just smashes you with the rawest peatiness, some very strong coffee (the Italian’s most concentrated ristrettos are nothing), and an immense tarriness and saltiness. Tears you apart a bit, but that’s a lovely feeling. Monstrous, and that came unexpected! With water: bang-bang. Tart lemony salty smoky kippers. Finish: very long, very salty, very briny, very lemony. Salted anchovies. Comments: frankly, those Port Ellens ruled. I know some ‘smart people’ keep claiming that they closed it down because the whisky was sub-par. What’s sure is that you wouldn’t find this profile, neither west, nor east. Not to mention north. It was Port Ellen. SGP:457 - 91 points.

Time for a very last one…

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (55.6%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill sherry, 96 bottles)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (55.6%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill sherry, 96 bottles) Five stars The last vintage, the last months… And not the worst distillate according to my little book! Colour: straw. Nose: twenty-seven years old, never! This is as vibrant, clean, and fresh as some ten years old Laphroaig. I mean, independent Laphroaig. Although I’d add that there is a little vanilla and chocolate coming out, but the spirit’s big enough to stand that slightly ugly make-up. Largely! Patchouli, mentholated cigarettes, dill, aniseed, almonds, fennel, candle wax, orange blossom, iodine… With water: a little oak and cork comes out, a mustiness, wet wood… Mouth (neat): very salty, extremely salty! Anchovies, perhaps a little cologne, fleur de sel, cinchona… Not a very easy/sexy one, everything revolves around salty stuff. With water: mushrooms, clay, smoked salmon… But it gets a little rounder, with some almond paste. Finish: quite long, salty/almondy and kippery. More almonds in the aftertaste, and not a huge peatiness. Comments: not one of the peatiest PEs, but quality’s extremely high. Another great one by the Whisky Agency. How are you doing guys? SGP: 356 – 91 points.

That’s it, but there will be more older bottlings of Port Ellen on whiskyfun soon. Because tasting Port Ellen is like listening to the Rolling Stones, there’s something nostalgic to it.

(Thanks Jon, Angus, Konstantin)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Port Ellen I've tasted so far






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